Avid movie watcher and sometimes harsh critic with dreams of writing stories himself.
Zach Snyder has done something that has never been seen before. Due to him stepping away during filming of the original cut of Justice League, his vision was largely cut out by Warner Brothers Studio and Joss Whedon. Due to an overwhelming amount of support from fans, WB and HBO Max have delivered by shelling out millions of dollars to allow Snyder to deliver his vision. For all of his shortcomings in previous films, he largely delivers on his promise to fans and sticks the landing on creating a compelling and epic super hero story. The expanded backstories on individual characters and a bigger backstory to the big bad Darkseid adds to an overall better film. It isn't without its faults, but the grand sum outweighs the negatives. A four-hour long runtime is a bit much, but surprisingly, it doesn't really drag.
The plot is largely the same from the original cut delivered in 2017, but it's expanded. Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) has his faith in humanity restored and is deeply inspired by the heroic sacrifice by Superman (Henry Cavill). This fuels him to put together a team to stand united against an alien threat that looks to wipe out humanity and turn everything to darkness. The invaders, led by Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds), who is a soldier sent by the benevolent Darkseid, aim to locate the powerful mother boxes. Steppenwolf also sees Earth as a planet that is divided and weak in lieu of the recently departed Superman. However, as Bruce and Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) scramble to put together a team, they learn that it may be too late to save the planet from an assault from alien invaders.
While the plot is again largely unchanged from the original theatrical cut, the long runtime allows the viewer to better understand the newer characters such as Victor Stone, Barry Allen, and even Steppenwolf. It was a major point of criticism back in 2017 that Warner Bros and Snyder went from two movies to a big team up movie, and it is mostly in reaction to the success of Marvel Studio's Avengers. However, in this Snyder Cut, the new characters are fleshed out rather well while also teasing what could have been in Snyder's vision of this universe. It truly is incredible seeing these beloved characters all together, and frankly, fans are starving to see them done well. Snyder seems to grasp them well enough, but his flaws as a story teller shine through time to time. His over usage of slow motion in action scenes gets tiring and he also has a tendency to stay with scenes for far too long that add to a longer runtime. A perfect example of the latter would be Bruce's attempt of recruiting Arthur Curry failing only then to see him swim away and then be treated by a super awkward singing group of women that I could only assume lust over Arthur. It's just a weird scene that could have benefited from Snyder cutting away from it after Arthur swam away. There are more examples of that throughout that just bloat the film.
The biggest character that really benefits from the extra scenes is Ray Fisher's Victor Stone. It is a shame to hear how much grief he had endured behind the scenes, which I won't get into, but I am sure the actor is happy to see his character get the treatment it deserved from the beginning. Victor is largely the heart of the film and the most tragic character. He is very much the Frankenstein's monster, and if it wasn't for the Justice League, he'd be a completely different person in lieu of his horrible accident that made him who he is. However, his arch with his father and mother is very touching throughout. Furthermore, Ray Fisher does a great job in the role, although some of his walking motions were a bit strange, but I assume some of the CG was a bit rushed considering the budget. Even Steppenwolf looked a bit awkward at times as he is also a fully CG character. Another character that also benefits is Barry Allen. His character in the original cut was primarily the comic relief and it's understandable as he usually is in the comics, but at his heart he is so much more than that. He has more funny scenes throughout, but through the nuanced performance delivered by Ezra Miller, there is a real broken, naive, and caring soul underneath all the jokes. It was also interesting to see how some of his use of the Speed Force was clearly planned to set up his solo film and potentially Flashpoint.
Steppenwolf had more depth to his character as we learn that he was a disgraced soldier who had failed his master Darkseid previously. In doing so, Steppenwolf wanted to deliver Earth, a planet that Darkseid has failed to destroy long ago. The inclusion of Darkseid as a big bad and being able to actually see him this time around added higher stakes. Otherwise, Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman doesn't have much added to her story, but she does have some more memorable action sequences that really shine. Snyder really showcased her in those scenes as best as he could. One major thing that Snyder and WB hit gold on was the casting of Gadot as Wonder Woman, and she continues to shine again in this film. However, it did get really annoying after awhile anytime any Amazon was on screen since you heard the same track over and over of a woman screaming some sort of tribal yell. It got a bit distracting after a while. Ben Affleck as Batman, to me, is a mixed bag. He's passable but the real interesting part of his whole character is the visions he has of the future, just like in the previous film, Batman vs Superman. Henry Cavill as Superman is also a treat. He is terrific in the action sequences and delivers in what Superman is. But it would be interesting to see Snyder's take on an evil Superman. All in all, after watching the four-hour long epic, you can't help but feel some sort of happiness for Zach Snyder as this very much was his baby. He has lived with this story and these characters for a long time and clearly has a real passion for them all. It's just a shame that there was such a fallout between he and Warner Brothers. We can hope that the Snyder Cut forces Warner Brothers hand to allow him to continue his vision, but I find it very doubtful.